If Sri Lanka is to achieve its Vision 2025 target of developing into a highly competitive knowledge-based economy, it will need to overcome notable shortages in the labour market – not only in terms of skills, but also in raw numbers, opines the Oxford Business Group in its latest report.
Many sectors struggle to fill vacant positions, with educated and aspirational Sri Lankans becoming increasingly reluctant to take manual or low-level service jobs. So far, the construction, agriculture and tourism industries have been particularly badly hit. Young and productive Sri Lankan citizens are often lured into what are perceived to be lucrative jobs on the construction sites of Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In addition, the country’s highly prized ICT, accounting and medical professionals often aspire to more rewarding jobs in the Gulf or the West. The resultant brain drain is only partially offset by remittances.
This overseas dispersion of talent is reflected in the varying responses from CEOs over what type of skill is in greatest need in the labour market: 31% of interviewees chose leadership, 19% cited research and development, 15% engineering and 10% computer technology.